How to Interview a Child
Investigators face formidable challenges when interviewing child victims, especially in sex crime cases. Interviewing a child is in some ways very similar to interviewing any crime victim but, in some ways, it's very different. The first hurdle is to get the child to open up.
Determining the setting and manner in which a child is interviewed goes a long way toward fostering a successful interview. Martha Finnegan, a Child Interview Specialist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who has hundreds of child interviews under her belt, recommends using child advocacy centers, when available, for interviews. Otherwise, unless the crime was alleged to have taken place there, the child's home tends to be the most comfortable setting for pre-schoolers and school-age children. Pre-adolescents and adolescents may prefer a different secure setting. In any event, the setting should be devoid of any unnecessary distractions such as toys or television sets.